Eight years ago, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) decided a move from four, eight-minute quarters to two 18-minute halves would be a good thing for high school boys' and girls' basketball in the state.
The decision went against the norms of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), but the membership of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) overwhelmingly was in favor of the move, and the halves concept had been in play for a number of years in neighboring Minnesota.
However, this Friday the WIAA will discuss starting the process for switching from halves back to quarters at its Board of Control meeting in Stevens Point. If a formal proposal is made by Board of Control members, then it will initiate the rules change cycle, and would go through the committee process, starting with Coaches Advisory next April.
The action items currently scheduled for a vote this Friday include:
A) Placing a constitutional change on the WIAA Annual Meeting agenda that would require the WIAA to be compliant with NFHS rules in all sports. This would force the WIAA to use the NFHS timing rules (four, 8-minute quarters) with the new 4-8-1 rule for foul and bonus free throw administration. If the Board does support this at Friday’s vote, it is not in place for the upcoming 2023-24 season. It would be placed on the agenda for next April’s WIAA Annual Meeting for a membership vote, which if approved, would be implemented in the 2024-25 season.
Note: The 4-8-1 rule, adopted last June by the NFHS, eliminates the one-and-one for common fouls beginning with the seventh team foul in the half and establishes the bonus as two free throws awarded for a common foul beginning with the team’s fifth foul in each quarter and resets the fouls at the end of each quarter.
B) A change to WIAA basketball regulations to be compliant with NFHS rules for the sport of basketball. This would mean four, 8-minute quarters and use of Rule 4-8-1. This would not need to go to the WIAA membership for a vote. However, it would not be implemented for 2023-24; it would place this proposal through the WIAA committee process, so it would go to the WIAA basketball coaches advisory committee and the other WIAA committees next spring for consideration, then to the Advisory Council in June 2024, who can vote to advance it to the Board of Control or could defeat it at that time. If the Advisory Council votes to advance it to the Board of Control, the Board would review in June 2024 for final approval, with potential implementation in the 2024-25 season.
These are potential big changes to basketball in Wisconsin, and the WBCA has taken notice.
Over the past several weeks, the WBCA conducted a survey among its boys' and girls' coaches to gain feedback on a potential move to quarters.
Here are the results of that survey:
A total of 317 coaches, or 68 percent, favored staying with halves and not moving back to quarters.
A total of 152 coaches, or 32 percent, favored moving to quarters in order to utilize the 4-8-1 rule.
By gender, it came down to 79 percent of boys' coaches preferring to stick with halves compared with 53 percent of girls' coaches wanting to keep the halves.
Many coaches believe the flow of the game is vastly superior with the halves compared to quarters, citing the elimination of teams holding the ball for the last shot near the end of the first and third quarters.
Additionally, coaches liked the idea of four extra minutes per game as it potentially would allow them to use more players in any given contest.
The most common reasons for wanting to switch to quarters include having built-in timeouts at the end of the first and third periods along utilizing the 4-8-1. Some coaches also felt strongly that moving to quarters matches the current women's college game, and being in compliance with NFHS would give the WIAA a voice on the NFHS board.
The significant difference in support for use of halves between boys' and girls' coaches could lead to discussion for using quarters in the girls games and halves for the boys games.
Some also have floated the idea of having four, nine-minute quarters to be able to use the new 4-8-1 rule, but keep the longer playing time.
WIAA staff members have indicated their number one goal is to service its members, while being compliant with NFHS rules or having representation on the national rules committee is not the primary goal.
"The WBCA and the WIAA want to do what is best for basketball in the state of Wisconsin," said Jerry Petitgoue, executive director of the WBCA. "That is our hope."